An experienced doctor found that most couples benefit from putting these things into practice.
When two people decide to unite their lives forever, they want their marriage to work well in all areas, and they know that this involves big decisions. They have goals and dreams they want to achieve together. But a marriage requires daily effort: It’s the only way you can achieve the stability and joy of seeing your shared project grow.
Dr. Fernando Sarráis, who has decades of experience behind him, has decided to write down some simple guidelines that can help couples who are going through a rough patch, and help those who are happy but know that they have a long road ahead as a family.
In his new book Family in Harmony (Familia en armonía” in the original Spanish), he devotes a chapter to happiness in marriage. Without happiness, it is impossible for a family to last. Here’s what he recommends…
There is such a thing as a healthy and natural love of self, but selfishness is an exaggeration of that love. Selfishness “leads to thinking, feeling and behaving in the service of one’s own interest, and to using others as a means of achieving that self-centered interest,” explains Dr. Sarráis.
Some behaviors that reflect that selfishness include demanding any of the following:
- that your spouse follow the schedule that you prefer,
- that everyone watch your favorite TV shows,
- that you and your spouse schedule trips or excursions to places that only you choose,
- that your household expenses be focused only on your own personal goals,
- that you can do whatever you want without ever consulting your partner,
- that you can prohibit your spouse from having friendships with people you don’t like.
2Maintain mutual admiration.
“Admiration leads us to want to be with this person, to treat them with care, and to admire what is good, authentic and valuable in them.”
Dr. Sarráis suggests that we should strive always to admire our spouse, but also that we should make it easier for our spouse to admire us. Among other examples, he proposes the following suggestions:
- taking care of our health and hygiene,
- dressing appropriately,
- being kind in our words and dealings with others,
- taking care of our personal appearance.
Above all, he insists that we must take care to be the kind of person that inspires our spouse to admire us. That means striving to live these virtues:
3Practice good communication.
Good communication requires “satisfying the psychological need for adequate intellectual, emotional, and sensory communication between the spouses.” For example, couples should cultivate ongoing affection, because if it dies out, spouses start to disagree more and to get into arguments.
Dialogue between spouses, says Dr. Sarráis, “is a necessity of rational human nature itself, but it is above all a consequence of mutual affection, since love is communicative.
4Share great and exciting projects.
“Working hard to achieve a common project unites people and, of course, spouses. The greater and more noble the project, the stronger the bond that unites them.”
One of the greatest projects a person can have in life is “to give life to other human beings and to educate them so they can become mature and happy,” says Dr. Sarráis. This is why children bring their parents closer together. A married couple has to remember, however, that the health of their relationship must come first if they are to succeed in raising healthy, happy children.
It’s also important to want to be good parents: It’s not enough simply to bring children into the world without any thought for a wholesome upbringing. You must raise them to be psychologically mature, and that is a great task that requires that you educate yourself and learn best practices in child health and development.
5Make the home a pleasant place.
Dr. Sarráis explains that this point is very important. To achieve happiness, one must strive to make the home “a haven of peace and tranquility, a place where one recovers physical, moral, emotional, and spiritual strength to go back out into the world and strive for great goals, which produce great personal satisfaction and happiness.”
How is this achieved? By encouraging the desire to get home to each other; for example, by making sure your home is welcoming, pleasantly decorated, and comfortable, and above all by treating each other with love and respect so that the desire to come home and spend time together there comes naturally.
6Take care of your physical health.
According to Dr. Sarráis, couples should take care of their health, because “when we are physically well, our whole person is well, and we’re better able to play our role as good husbands or wives, good parents, good workers, good friends and good citizens.”
This means putting in the effort to build habits that lead to a healthy life, from getting enough sleep to exercising, and doing our best to work responsibly so we aren’t unduly stressed.